Study: Consumers want to interact, be ‘friends’ with brands

A few recent reports highlight the importance of engaging with audiences through social media and by creating compelling content.

It looks like people want relationships just as much as brand managers do.

A Trendera study reveals that 63 percent of consumers want brands to treat them like friends. The report also says lifestyle preferences aren’t noticeably different between consumers ages 18 to 50, meaning brand managers should look beyond targeting demographics.

“The days of impressing consumers with targeted marketing based solely on demographics are in the past,” Trendera’s president, Liz Gray, tells Adweek. “Marketing in 2015 is about treating your audience as fans, not customers.”

Marketers say interaction is most important

That’s good news for marketers who feel that interacting with consumers is their top priority.

An Ascend2 report reveals that 64 percent of marketing professionals feel that increasing engagement with their audiences is the most important aspect of social media efforts.

More than half say increasing brand awareness is an integral element of social media strategies, and 41 percent say they focus on lead generation. However, only 25 percent of marketers say the most important aspect of social media efforts is boosting their organization or client’s sales.

Sixty-nine percent of marketers surveyed say video is the most effective content for reaching consumers and encouraging interaction, and half say using infographics is an effective approach.

“Video and infographics have become the most effective type of content used for social media marketing purposes,” says Ascend2’s partner and chief marketing officer, Todd Lebo. “Humans are hardwired to want things—now. It’s called instant gratification, and it’s a powerful force driving the popularity of content like videos and infographics.”

An argument for blogging

Though only 14 to 35 percent of those surveyed by Ascend2 say blog posts, case studies, reports and white papers are effective, marketers shouldn’t be quick to dismiss the power behind blogs.

IZEA’s founder and chief exec, Ted Murphy, recently reported (via a Halverson Group study) that blog posts’ lifetime values are nearly 24 times longer than the long-held belief that there’s a 30-day life cycle for blog posts.

That study shows that it takes two years for a blog posts to gain 99 percent of its impressions. Impressions vary depending on the content of the blog post. Evergreen articles, such as how-to guides, recipes or thought leadership stories are more likely to be shared over a longer period of time.

Murphy explains that blog posts go through three “cycles.” The first is a “shout” phase, where the post earns half its impressions within the first 10 days. The post then goes through an “echo” phase, which lasts until the 30th day and garners nearly three-fourths of its impressions.

The final blog post phase is a “reverberate” cycle. From a month to two years past its publishing date, the post gains an additional 28 percent of impressions. Murphy says most metrics do not take this phase into account.

Longer posts gain more attention

Marketing pros might also get more clicks and shares on longer blog posts, a Hubspot study shows.

After researching more than 6,000 blog posts, Matthew Barby, Hubspot’s global head of growth and SEO, says that posts with word counts between 2,250 and 2,500 words earn the most organic traffic.

Posts with more than 2,500 words get shared the most across social media, Barby reports, and they also have the most external websites linking to them.

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